Finding a beginning point when searching for ones roots is an adventurous job for genealogists. For those with only a few hints, the job can be difficult at first. For those with a wealth of information, there are still the things that continue to baffle, even after you know the answer. Nevertheless, in today’s genealogy search there are tons of informational resources that aid in the struggle to discover how you came to be.
- Online census records
- Cemetery records
- Obituary records
- Burial plots
- Church records
- Bible records
- Immigration records
- Job records
- Library of Congress archives
- Family trinkets
Unfortunately, census records are sealed for 70 years, so unless information is obtained from friends of family or living relatives, getting information beyond the 50s from census records is slim. The census can tell a person, where relatives lived, how many people lived in the house and ages. Maybe, if the person you are searching for is not found; the name of a neighbor might ring a bell. The family may be found offering useful information that might help your search.
Still, the world is filled with hints. Telephone books are becoming obsolete but there are the online phone pages and cemetery records online are helpful. If a person has any ideas on family names or prior locations, old newspapers are another resource.
In the early years of the country, people were known by their livelihood, quite proud of their trades. Some were tailors, brick masons, clergymen, doctors, lawyers and watchmakers. These trades were passed down through generations. Bakers and ladies maids were fashionable in the old country. These job descriptions are hints.
Genealogists on the trail may find family name changes. Perhaps the endings or beginnings are changed. Still, many names are recognizable. Those who were former slaves sometimes took names of former owners. This leads to plantations and slave records. Some slave families used same first names for relatives, as if giving hints for future relatives to trace their heritage.
Sources are aligned on line in categories. When working on a computer the information is almost instantaneous. The Library of Congress is filled with documentations, Civil war letters, slave, and revolutionary war excerpts, written down by diary keepers and recorders, giving an account, from people long ago. Movies demonstrate; how history of families is intermingled with historical events. The “Civil War or Prohibition are only a few examples.
Family stories are a great start to finding the way through the family archives. Trace the journey of relatives as they move across the “Atlantic”. Never, ignore small details. Sometimes relatives do not consider things important. When on the search, inquire about small things, a toy, a location or an aunts humming of a particular tune. Find out why the family loves a certain food or a special vacation spot. The search for yourself is always surprising.